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Tech - News Updated: March 13, 2023

Commercial Solar Energy And Its Growing Popularity Throughout Africa

By Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi
March 13, 2023
Rural solar energy electrification.
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According to a recent report, industrial solar power installations in Africa increased by more than 60% in 2022.

With this, the total solar capacity surpasses the 10GW threshold.

Solar energy is being adopted by more African nations, primarily in the commercial and industrial sectors.

To provide affordable and sustainable electricity to rural communities as well as commercial and industrial sectors, Africa is utilizing its enormous solar energy potential.

According to the Solar Outlook 2023 report by the Africa Solar Industry Association, the commercial and industrial segment saw year-over-year growth of 61.5% in the previous year.

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In total, solar energy installations increased by nearly 1GW (949 MW) in 2022, a 14% year-over-year increase from the 833 MW that was added to the grid in 2021.

​​​Africa is leading the way in solar power potential.

Angola had the most installations in 2022 with 284 MW. Angola, South Africa (111.8 MW), Egypt (80 MW), Ghana (71.3 MW), and Mozambique round out the top five (41.9 MW).

"Africa is now home to more than 10GW of identified solar projects." the report claims.

While a small number of "hotspots," including South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt, have historically been responsible for the majority of Africa's solar installation capacity, more nations are now implementing solar initiatives.

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On the continent, thirty countries have installed more than one megawatt, sixteen have installed more than ten, and two have installed more than one hundred.

According to AFSIA, commercial and industrial solar installations already account for a sizable 30% of all solar installations on the continent. Ongoing projects also favour this sector.

To support the clean transition and ensure energy sustainability, it is essential to increase the capacity of solar energy in commercial and industrial processes.

This is especially important for nations like South Africa, where energy gaps caused by load-shedding, or controlled power blackouts, have negatively impacted commercial and industrial operations.

The AFSIA report reveals that the commercial and industrial sectors account for 22.2% of all solar installations in South Africa.

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More African countries keep embracing Solar Energy initiatives.

Notable is the rise in PV energy projects across Africa that are not government-sponsored.

Solar energy projects worth about 9 GW are currently being funded by non-governmental organisations in some African nations.

The National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) of South Africa claims that more than 100 sites with capacities of up to 100MW are currently under development.

These are in addition to the solar PV facilities funded by the government through the REIPPPP, or Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program.

With roughly 3,000MW in the works, solar is also poised to provide a much-needed energy source for the nation's national utility, ESKOM, with the first of the unsubsidized plants anticipated to be operational by the end of 2023.

Algeria, located further north, is eager to use its solar energy projects to transition its commercial and industrial operations away from fossil fuel-based energy sources.

Mini-grids are not currently a top priority in Algeria because 99.8% of the population has access to electricity.

The growing appeal of solar for the corporate power purchase agreements (CPPAs) market model, according to the authors of the AFSIA outlook, suggests that solar growth has a tremendous amount of potential.

"CPPAs allow commercial and industrial customers to purchase renewable electricity directly from independent power producers (IPPs) at a pre-agreed price for a pre-agreed period (long-term)” it stated.

The association report recognizes the diversity of solar PV energy projects as evidence that the sector's expansion is not just concentrated in the usual "hot spots" of South Africa, Morocco, and Egypt.

Solar initiatives are now being adopted by more nations.

30 countries on the continent have installed more than 1 MW, 16 have installed more than 10 MW, and two have installed more than 100 MW, according to the report.

By 2030, solar PV is expected to have a total installed capacity of 125 GW in Africa, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

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Rasheed Olajide Awoniyi

Rasheed is a Prolific Content Writer who also has a niche in all Genres of Literature, Academic Pape...

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